Unique Vietnamese Tết traditions

January 14, 2023 - 08:18
Vietnamese people believe that Tết marks the beginning of a new year, a holiday of hope and belief in new and good things and a farewell to the old.

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Lunar New Year festival or Tết is the largest Vietnamese traditional celebration and has been since ancient times. It is not only a spiritual event that marks the change from one year to the next, but it also embodies the national culture of the country by reflecting the values and beliefs of the Vietnamese people.

While Western countries celebrate the start of the new year on January 1, countries in the east use the lunar calendar, with the new year beginning later, in late January or early February.

Vietnamese people believe that Tết marks the beginning of a new year, a day of hope and belief in new and good things and a farewell to the old.

From the 23rd to the 30th day of the last month of the lunar year, family members get together to visit the graves of ancestors, inviting them to celebrate Tết with the family.

In addition to two types of flowers typical for Tết - peach and ochna blossoms - people also buy other flowers for worshipping rituals and decoration.

To the north, Tết flowers are peach blossoms, whereas in the south, ochna blossoms are more common. — VNA/VNS Photo Tuấn Anh

The significance of Tết meals has diminished as people's daily lives have improved. In spite of the fact that bánh chưng (a square sticky rice cake) is no longer considered a rare luxury dish, many households nevertheless make them in order to celebrate the holiday in style.

Prepare 'dong' leaves to wrap 'bánh chưng' for Tết holiday. — VNS Photo Bùi Diệu Minh
'Bánh chưng' includes many different ingredients such as sticky rice, pork, and green beans. VNS Photo Bùi Diệu Minh

On the afternoon of the last day of the lunar year, which falls on January 21 this year, after completing all of the work around the home, the family prepares a tray of dishes for offering to the ancestors and grandparents, called the “year-end” tray. It requires a lot of work to cook the different dishes, which include soup, stir-fried vegetables, and meat, especially boiled chicken.

In the first days of the new year, people visit family and friends. Adults give lucky money to children and the elderly, and wish for a prosperous and lucky year.

People also practice the custom of visiting pagodas to pray for good fortune. Students often begin a new year writing in the early spring, for a new year of study and successful exams.

On the first day of new year, students ask writings from calligraphers for success in exams. — VNA/VNS Photo

Each ethnic minority group or country has its own customs and practices. Tết in Việt Nam is a significant and unique cultural event that has been passed down for centuries.

Through the ups and downs of history, many customs have more or less fallen into oblivion or been significantly changed. But no matter where they are, Vietnamese people are always aware of their roots and practice traditional customs. — VNS